Report claims second flag linked to Jan. 6 riot found outside residence of Supreme Court Justice Alito

According to The New York Times, a second flag similar to the ones carried by rioters during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, was found displayed outside the house owned by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

Last summer, an “Appeal to Heaven” flag fluttered outside Alito’s beach vacation home, while an inverted American flag, a symbol also used by rioters, was observed at his home near Washington just days after the violent attack on the Capitol.

The news about the American flag being displayed upside-down last week caused a lot of controversy, leading some prominent Democrats to demand that Alito should abstain from any cases involving former President Donald Trump.

Justice Alito and the court have chosen not to comment on the presence and meaning of the “Appeal to Heaven” flag. Justice Alito has stated that the inverted American flag was flown by his wife during a disagreement with their neighbors, and he had no involvement in this matter.

According to photographs obtained by the Times, a white flag with a green pine tree was observed flying at the Alito beach home in New Jersey. These images, taken on various dates in July and September 2023, do not provide clarity on the duration of time the flag was flown or the amount of time Justice Alito spent there.

The flag has a long history, dating back to the Revolutionary War. However, in recent years, it has become linked to Christian nationalism and has been associated with support for Trump. During the Capitol riot, the flag was prominently displayed by rioters who were fueled by Trump’s “Stop the Steal” movement, which was based on false claims of election fraud.

Republicans in Congress and state officials have also chosen to display the flag. Last fall, House Speaker Mike Johnson proudly hung it at his office, shortly after winning the gavel. According to a spokesman, the speaker values the flag for its rich history and received it as a gift from a pastor who had served as a guest chaplain for the House.

Justice Alito is currently involved in two Supreme Court cases related to the events of January 6th. One case involves determining if former President Trump has immunity from prosecution for his actions in attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The other case is centered around whether a specific obstruction charge can be applied to the individuals involved in the Capitol riot. Additionally, Justice Alito joined the court’s unanimous decision that states cannot prevent Trump from appearing on the ballot by invoking the “insurrection clause” added to the Constitution after the Civil War.

Calls for Alito to recuse himself from Trump-related cases have intensified following news of the second flag. Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, emphasized the need to question Alito’s impartiality, stating, “At this point, it is difficult to make any reasonable case for Alito’s impartiality. As a result, he must not sit on cases about the 2020 election or the insurrection he appears to have supported.” Bookbinder’s organization represented Colorado voters in the case seeking to bar Trump from the ballot, known as the “insurrection clause” case, at the Supreme Court.

Alito has not shown any indication that he would recuse himself from the cases.

Clarence Thomas, another conservative justice, has been urged to step aside from cases pertaining to the 2020 election due to his wife Virginia Thomas’ advocacy for overturning Trump’s defeat to President Joe Biden. However, he has chosen to disregard these calls and remains involved in such cases.

In the past 50 years, public trust in the Supreme Court has reached its lowest level.

Judicial ethics codes prioritize the independence of judges, emphasizing the importance of refraining from making political statements or expressing opinions on issues that may come before them for judgment. While the Supreme Court had not previously established its own code of ethics, it finally adopted one in November 2023. This decision came as a response to continuous scrutiny regarding undisclosed trips and gifts received by certain justices from affluent supporters. However, it is worth noting that the code does not currently possess an enforcement mechanism.

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